Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

January 27, 2024

Mexico's Military used Israel's Pegasus Spyware to Spy on Yaqui in Sonora

Tomas Rojo, spokesman, of the Traditional Authority of Vicam Yaqui, was brutally assassinated. International Water Forum on Yoeme (Yaqui) ancestral land in Sonora, Mexico, by Brenda Norrell, Censored News.

Mexico's Military used Israel's Pegasus Spyware to Spy on Yaqui in Sonora, During the Years when Yaqui Water Defenders were Imprisoned, Disappeared and Assassinated

By Brenda Norrell, Censored News, January 28, 2024

Mexico's military used Israel's Pegasus spyware to spy on Yaqui in Sonora, south of the Arizona border, according to leaked files. The Mexican military spied on Vicam Yaqui, during the years when many Vicam Yaqui were kidnapped and falsely imprisoned; disappeared; and brutally assassinated.

Before they were imprisoned and murdered, the Traditional Authority of Vicam Yaqui hosted International Water Forums, and highway blockades for years, to protect their Yaqui River water from being stolen by an aqueduct for the City of Hermosillo.

Tomas Rojo, spokesman for the Traditional Authority of Vicam Pueblo, was brutally assassinated on a morning walk in his community in May, 2021.

During our interview with Tomas in Vicam Pueblo, Tomas spoke of the struggle to recover what has been taken -- the land and the water -- over the past 500 years.

"We will not rest until we achieve this connection and struggle that rests in the memory of our elders. The only thing that we do is to struggle continually, under conditions not as severe, for what they fought for," Tomas said.

"They fought in the mountains among the stones, among the thorns, among the bush, among the wild animals that were their friends," Rojo said during our video interview, during the International Water Forum in Vicam Pueblo in 2012.
The leaked files of the Mexican military reveal that it tracked Vicam Yaqui's highway blockades, which halted truckers on a busy international route through their community, for years. The Mexican military states in its files that Yaqui were engaged in defending the water in their territory from being taken by the aqueduct to Hermosillo.

During those years, the Mexican military stalked both Yaqui in Sonora, and the Zapatistas.

The Traditional Authority of Vicam Yaqui hosted both international water forums, and an international gathering of Zapatistas, with Marcos and Comandantes from Chiapas. The international gathering of Zapatistas was held in Vicam Pueblo and attended by Indigenous from the far north and south, in October of 2007.

While the Zapatistas were on the Journey for Life in Europe in 2021, the Mexican military stalked them, using social media, and informants at consulates, leaked files reveal.

The Pegasus spyware, sold by Israel to Mexico, when placed in cell phones, can not be detected. The spyware shows a person's location and turns the cellphone into a listening device and viewing device. It can be turned on for audio and video without the user knowing it.

Mexico was the first and is the most prolific user of the Israeli company NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, which targeted human rights activists and journalists.

Israel's deal with Mexico for the spyware was made in 2011.

Israel's Pegasus spyware was sold to countries with poor human rights records and used to spy on journalists and activists around the world, including Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Hungary, India and the UAE.

The Pegasus spyware was so sought after, that countries would change their votes at the United Nations if they were successful in purchasing it from Israel.

The use of Israel's Pegasus spyware continues in Mexico.

"Amnesty International, Citizen Lab and Mexican nongovernmental organizations found signs of the spyware on the phones of 26 Mexican journalists, activists and politicians between 2015 and 2017. In 2021, the Pegasus Project, a consortium of 17 news organizations around the world including The Post, discovered further abuses,  the Washington Post reported in 2023.

"The coalition reported that two human rights lawyers representing the parents of some of the Ayotzinapa students had discovered their phones were infected by Pegasus last year," the Washington Post said, referring to the 43 disappeared students in Guerrero, Mexico.

Article: Mexico spied on Yaqui and Zapatistas, at Censored News.

Copyright Brenda Norrell, Censored News. Content may not be used without written permission for any purpose.

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